DHANYAKA (Coriandrum sativum)
Dhanyaka is mentioned in the ancient scriptures of Ayurveda and is closely associated with the kitchen in India life. The word dhayaka denotes both, the plant as well as its fruit. The plant is known as coriander in English. Ayurvedic texts mention it as agnimandya nasaka – reduces anorexia or loss or appetite and as amapacaka – digests the ama the toxins, or indigested food or uneliminated waste materials. It has various synonyms in Sanskrit like hrdya-pleasant to the mind, beneficial to the heart, chatra – the flowers resemble the shape of the umbrella, kustumbaru – one which alleviates various diseases, as it alleviates all the three dosas, etc. Maharsi Caraka has mentioned it as rocana – which improves the taste sensation and as dipana which augments the appetite. Bhavaprakasa has recommended a glassful of cold infusion of its fruits with sugar, to mitigate the burning sensation of the body and the excessive thirst.
Dhanyaka is cultivated throughout India. It is an annual herb, with an erect, slender, smooth stem. It grows 30-90 cm in height. The lower leaves are on long petioles, whereas the upper leaves are nearly sessile. The flower is small, white or pinkish purple in colour. The fruit is nearly globular, yellowish brown, ribbed, separating into two halves, each containing seed. It flowers in june and the seed in ripe in August or September.
The botanical name of the plant is Coriandrum sativum and it belongs to family Umbelliferae, Apiaceae. The green vegetable contains 84% moisture and the dried material contains ether extracts 3.12% , albuminoids 24.46%, woody fibre 9.75%, ash 19.37%, The fruits yield a volatile essential oil 1%, fised oil 13%, fatty matter 13%, mucilage, tannin, malic acid and ash 5%.
Dhanyaka is astringent, bitter and sweet in taste , sweet in the post digestive effect and has hot potency . The green fruits of dhanyaka have cold potency. It possesses oily and light attributes. The plant has a special potency as an appetizer . It alleviates vata, pitta and kapha, all the three dosas. It has special properties like an appetizer, digestant, diuretic, alleviates thirst and is a tonic. (Raja Nighantu)
Dhanyaka is useful both, internally as well as externally. The fruits and the whole fresh plant are used for medicinal purpose. Externaly, The fruits and the whole fresh plant are used for medicinal purpose. Externally, a leaf paste is extremely beneficial for allergic inflammations caused by bhallataka (marking nut). The paste of its fruits reduces the pains and the swelling. It also works well in the headache due like cervical adenitis, erysipelas and oedema due to vitiation of pitta, the paste of its fruits is effective to alleviate the pain and swelling. The gargles of its fruits decoction is a very effective medicament in stomatitis. The nasal bleeding in epistaxis is checked with the instillation of the fresh juice of its leaves, in the nose. The same, when instilled in the eyes, curbs conjunctivitis. It reduces the burning sensation, itching, redness and purulent discharges from the eyes. The fomentation with the warmed pulp of its leaves, gives good relief in the piles.
Dhanyaka, many a times, is used as an adjunct. Internally, it is an effective digestant, appetizer, amapacaka and krmighna – vermicidal, hence, is useful in anorexia, dyspepsia, diarrhea, dysentery and intestinal worm infestations. It is benevolent in polydypsia – an excessive thirst due to aggravated pitta. A drink made out of boiling the roasted and ground coriander fruits – dhanyaka in water, cooled and mixed with honey or sugar, taken early in the morning is effective in excessive thirst and vitiated conditions of pitta. The green leaves as well as the dried fruits are commonly used to season dishes. The dhanyaka – tea enhances the appetite, when taken on empty stomach, in the morning. In children, the powder of ground fruits given with honey, works well in worms. The decoction of dhanyaka and yastimadhu effectively relieves the bronchospasm in cough. In fever , the decoction of dhanyaka with sunthi is valuable. To alleviate the vitiated pitta, it works well when given with sugar. Dhanyaka, jiraka (cumin) and satapuspa are related plants with similar properties and are often used together for umpteen digestive disorders.
Dhanyaka is a diuretic as well as it clears off the discoloration of urine. It is extremely beneficial in the burning micturition, strangury and dysuria, for which its decoction or cold infusion is given with sugar . The seed powder is effective, when mixed with honey and sheep’s milk, in the treatment of urinary stones Dhanyaka combines well with goksura for decoction, in urinary ailments. The fruits are effectively used to curb the excessive libido – sex desire. The medicated milk preparation with its seeds is an effective nervine tonic.
Classical Ayurvedic Preparations
- Dhanyakadi hima
- Dhanya pancake
- Dhanya catuska